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Recording ‘Inside Looking Out’

The story of Joe Matera’s new cross-continental single, featuring drums by Slade’s Don Powell and a team of many Europe-based musos

By

11 November 2021

The recording process for my new single ‘Inside Looking Out’ began when I first sent a demo I had put together of my track to Don Powell over in Denmark. Don liked what he heard and booked some studio time with his go to engineer so he could lay down his drum part.

Don’s drum track was recorded and engineered by Torben Lehmann and Bjarne Søgaard at The GLAM recording studio in Varde, Denmark in July 2021. Three takes of the drums were recorded and a composite of the three takes were edited to form the final drum track.

Once I received Don’s finished drum track, I imported them into Cubase and added them to the demo. I then forwarded the demo onto my bass player Janne Borgh in Stockholm who then recorded his bass part. Janne used a 1976 Thunderbird bass running through a SansAmp YYZ using a “warm tube” setting with a slight touch of compression added as well.

Don in studio surrounded by his armada of mics

Demo Tapes, Vocal Takes

With the drums/bass foundation set, the process of re-recording all the guitar and vocals parts could begin. Initially, the rhythm guitars on the demo were more straight forward, but, as the song evolved over time, the new rhythm guitars I ended up recording were totally different from the original demo both in style, approach and rhythmic element. I also added in a new guitar part in the bridge section that gave the track an edgier, darker feel which further emphasised the song’s lyrical matter. I also tweaked my vocal phrasing, and came up with a totally new vocal melody in the bridge. For my lead vocal and backing vocals, I used a AT2020. I just love the warmth and clarity of the mic. I did three vocal takes and kept the best take which ended up being the first take.

As is my usual modus operandi, I recorded two rhythm guitar tracks for panning hard left and right in the mix. When it came to the guitar solo section, no matter how hard I tried to re-record and recapture the initial spirit and energy of the demo’s guitar solo, which was done in one improvised take, I just wasn’t able to recreate that special ‘moment’ again. In the end, I made the decision to keep the original demo solo because, the original solo encapsulated exactly what I needed from the solo: energetic, melodic and emotionally charged.

DON'S DRUM MIC BREAKDOWN

  • Kick external: Shure Beta 52A
  • Kick internal: Behringer BA 19A
  • Kick sub: Homemade sub-kick
  • Snare Dynamic: Shure SM57
  • Snare Condenser: AKG P170
  • Snare bottom: Shure SM57
  • Hihat: Røde M3
  • Tom 1: Shure SM57
  • Tom 2: Shure SM57
  • OH L+R: Røde M3
  • Amb L+R: AKG P170

For my lead vocal and backing vocals, I used a AT2020. I just love the warmth and clarity of the mic.

The guitars I used were a 2005 Fender Fat Strat fitted with Di Marzio pickups. I close miked a Laney LV200 with a Rode M3 mic, and ran that through a MXR EQ, TC Electronic Iron Curtain and a Boss OS-2. For the bridge section, I added a Behringer CS400 just to help tame the transients better so that the sustain didn’t sound like a mess. This kept the transients more in control and contoured. Everything was recorded at 48K/24 bit.

Swedish Send-Off

Once recording was completed, I sent the finished track over to my co-producer and mix engineer Tomas Skogsberg (Entombed, Backyard Babies, The Hellacopters) at his famed Sunlight Studios in Sweden. Having already worked with Tomas on every release I’ve put out since 2018, Tomas already knew how I worked and what I needed. Because of this, he had most of it done in one mix session, and it only took a few more slight mix revisions to tweak it into its final shape.

At one point I suggested adding a swirling echo to the last word I sing at the end of the song, ‘out’ but upon hearing it, it didn’t suit. Tomas told me he didn’t like it too and once I heard it, I also agreed with him completely. Sometimes trying to experiment especially during mix down isn’t always the best route. In the bridge section, Tomas added a cool effect to my vocal line, which was a mixture of Delay and a ‘Leslie’ effect. Then brought in the doubled vocals that are panned in stereo, to really open up the lead into the climatic guitar solo. In the song’s choruses, he added a bit more distortion to my lightly overdriven rhythm guitar tracks by running the tracks through a Boss DS-1. And he also triggered the kick and snare. Once mixing was done, mastering was undertaken by James Perrett at JRP Music in England.

‘Inside Looking Out’ is released via Mercury Fire Music and is out on October 29th and available on all digital download and streaming platforms.

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